Professional Education


  • PhD, ETH Zurich, Neuroscience, Cell Biology (2012)
  • MSc, ETH Zurich, Cell Biology (2008)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications


  • Functional cortical neurons and astrocytes from human pluripotent stem cells in 3D culture. Nature methods Pasca, A. M., Sloan, S. A., Clarke, L. E., Tian, Y., Makinson, C. D., Huber, N., Kim, C. H., Park, J., O'Rourke, N. A., Nguyen, K. D., Smith, S. J., Huguenard, J. R., Geschwind, D. H., Barres, B. A., Pasca, S. P. 2015; 12 (7): 671-678

    Abstract

    The human cerebral cortex develops through an elaborate succession of cellular events that, when disrupted, can lead to neuropsychiatric disease. The ability to reprogram somatic cells into pluripotent cells that can be differentiated in vitro provides a unique opportunity to study normal and abnormal corticogenesis. Here, we present a simple and reproducible 3D culture approach for generating a laminated cerebral cortex-like structure, named human cortical spheroids (hCSs), from pluripotent stem cells. hCSs contain neurons from both deep and superficial cortical layers and map transcriptionally to in vivo fetal development. These neurons are electrophysiologically mature, display spontaneous activity, are surrounded by nonreactive astrocytes and form functional synapses. Experiments in acute hCS slices demonstrate that cortical neurons participate in network activity and produce complex synaptic events. These 3D cultures should allow a detailed interrogation of human cortical development, function and disease, and may prove a versatile platform for generating other neuronal and glial subtypes in vitro.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nmeth.3415

    View details for PubMedID 26005811

  • The Gdap1 knockout mouse mechanistically links redox control to Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease BRAIN Niemann, A., Huber, N., Wagner, K. M., Somandin, C., Horn, M., Lebrun-Julien, F., Angst, B., Pereira, J. A., Halfter, H., Welzl, H., Feltri, M. L., Wrabetz, L., Young, P., Wessig, C., Toyka, K. V., Suter, U. 2014; 137: 668-682

    Abstract

    The ganglioside-induced differentiation-associated protein 1 (GDAP1) is a mitochondrial fission factor and mutations in GDAP1 cause Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. We found that Gdap1 knockout mice (Gdap1(-/-)), mimicking genetic alterations of patients suffering from severe forms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, develop an age-related, hypomyelinating peripheral neuropathy. Ablation of Gdap1 expression in Schwann cells recapitulates this phenotype. Additionally, intra-axonal mitochondria of peripheral neurons are larger in Gdap1(-/-) mice and mitochondrial transport is impaired in cultured sensory neurons of Gdap1(-/-) mice compared with controls. These changes in mitochondrial morphology and dynamics also influence mitochondrial biogenesis. We demonstrate that mitochondrial DNA biogenesis and content is increased in the peripheral nervous system but not in the central nervous system of Gdap1(-/-) mice compared with control littermates. In search for a molecular mechanism we turned to the paralogue of GDAP1, GDAP1L1, which is mainly expressed in the unaffected central nervous system. GDAP1L1 responds to elevated levels of oxidized glutathione by translocating from the cytosol to mitochondria, where it inserts into the mitochondrial outer membrane. This translocation is necessary to substitute for loss of GDAP1 expression. Accordingly, more GDAP1L1 was associated with mitochondria in the spinal cord of aged Gdap1(-/-) mice compared with controls. Our findings demonstrate that Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease caused by mutations in GDAP1 leads to mild, persistent oxidative stress in the peripheral nervous system, which can be compensated by GDAP1L1 in the unaffected central nervous system. We conclude that members of the GDAP1 family are responsive and protective against stress associated with increased levels of oxidized glutathione.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/brain/awt371

    View details for Web of Science ID 000332036300007

    View details for PubMedID 24480485

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease-associated mutants of GDAP1 dissociate its roles in peroxisomal and mitochondrial fission EMBO REPORTS Huber, N., Guimaraes, S., Schrader, M., Suter, U., Niemann, A. 2013; 14 (6): 545-552

    Abstract

    Mitochondria and peroxisomes can be fragmented by the process of fission. The fission machineries of both organelles share a set of proteins. GDAP1 is a tail-anchored protein of mitochondria and induces mitochondrial fragmentation. Mutations in GDAP1 lead to Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), an inherited peripheral neuropathy, and affect mitochondrial dynamics. Here, we show that GDAP1 is also targeted to peroxisomes mediated by the import receptor Pex19. Knockdown of GDAP1 leads to peroxisomal elongation that can be rescued by re-expressing GDAP1 and by missense mutated forms found in CMT patients. GDAP1-induced peroxisomal fission is dependent on the integrity of its hydrophobic domain 1, and on Drp1 and Mff, as is mitochondrial fission. Thus, GDAP1 regulates mitochondrial and peroxisomal fission by a similar mechanism. However, our results reveal also a more critical role of the amino-terminal GDAP1 domains, carrying most CMT-causing mutations, in the regulation of mitochondrial compared to peroxisomal fission.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/embor.2013.56

    View details for Web of Science ID 000319808600017

    View details for PubMedID 23628762

  • Dominant GDAP1 mutations cause predominantly mild CMT phenotypes NEUROLOGY Zimon, M., Baets, J., Fabrizi, G. M., Jaakkola, E., Kabzinska, D., Pilch, J., Schindler, A. B., Cornblath, D. R., FISCHBECK, K. H., Auer-Grumbach, M., Guelly, C., Huber, N., De Vriendt, E., Timmerman, V., Suter, U., Hausmanowa-Petrusewicz, I., Niemann, A., Kochanski, A., De Jonghe, P., Jordanova, A. 2011; 77 (6): 540-548

    Abstract

    Ganglioside-induced differentiation associated-protein 1 (GDAP1) mutations are commonly associated with autosomal recessive Charcot-Marie-Tooth (ARCMT) neuropathy; however, in rare instances, they also lead to autosomal dominant Charcot-Marie-Tooth (ADCMT). We aimed to investigate the frequency of disease-causing heterozygous GDAP1 mutations in ADCMT and their associated phenotype.We performed mutation analysis in a large cohort of ADCMT patients by means of bidirectional sequencing of coding regions and exon-intron boundaries of GDAP1. Intragenic GDAP1 deletions were excluded using an allele quantification assay. We confirmed the pathogenic character of one sequence variant by in vitro experiments assaying mitochondrial morphology and function.In 8 Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) families we identified 4 pathogenic heterozygous GDAP1 mutations, 3 of which are novel. Three of the mutations displayed reduced disease penetrance. Disease onset in the affected individuals was variable, ranging from early childhood to adulthood. Disease progression was slow in most patients and overall severity milder than typically seen in autosomal recessive GDAP1 mutations. Electrophysiologic changes are heterogeneous but compatible with axonal neuropathy in the majority of patients.With this study, we broaden the phenotypic and genetic spectrum of autosomal dominant GDAP1-associated neuropathies. We show that patients with dominant GDAP1 mutations may display clear axonal CMT, but may also have only minimal clinical and electrophysiologic abnormalities. We demonstrate that cell-based functional assays can be reliably used to test the pathogenicity of unknown variants. We discuss the implications of phenotypic variability and the reduced penetrance of autosomal dominant GDAP1 mutations for CMT diagnostic testing and counseling.

    View details for DOI 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318228fc70

    View details for Web of Science ID 000293658900009

    View details for PubMedID 21753178

  • A new missense GDAP1 mutation disturbing targeting to the mitochondrial membrane causes a severe form of AR-CMT2C disease NEUROGENETICS Kabzinska, D., Niemann, A., Drac, H., Huber, N., Potulska-Chromik, A., Hausmanowa-Petrusewicz, I., Suter, U., Kochanski, A. 2011; 12 (2): 145-153

    Abstract

    Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) caused by mutations in the ganglioside-induced differentiation-associated protein 1 (GDAP1) gene is characterized by a spectrum of phenotypes. Recurrent nonsense mutations (Q163X and S194X) showing regional distribution segregate with an early onset, severe course of recessive CMT disease with early loss of ambulancy. Missense mutations in GDAP1 have been reported in sporadic CMT cases with variable course of disease, among them the recurrent L239F missense GDAP1 mutation occurring in the European population. Finally, some GDAP1 mutations are associated with a mild form of CMT inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. In this study, we characterize the CMT phenotype in one Polish family with recessive trait of inheritance at the clinical, electrophysiological, morphological, cellular, and genetic level associated with a new Gly327Asp mutation in the GDAP1 gene. In spite of the nature of Gly327Asp mutation (missense), the CMT phenotype associated with this variant may be characterized as an early onset, severe axonal neuropathy, with severe skeletal deformities. The mutation lies within the transmembrane domain of GDAP1 and interferes with the mitochondrial targeting of the protein, similar to the loss of the domain in the previously reported Q163X and S194X mutations. We conclude that the loss of mitochondrial targeting is associated with a severe course of disease. Our study shows that clinical outcome of CMT disease caused by mutations in the GDAP1 gene cannot be predicted solely on the basis of genetic results (missense/nonsense mutations).

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10048-011-0276-7

    View details for Web of Science ID 000290546000005

    View details for PubMedID 21365284